Team Values and Performance

Team Values Map

A VP friend complained the other day that “the job is OK but I can’t get myself to the office, every day.” Before that statement, he looked and sounded like a happy senior executive steady and successful on his career path. Not true, he says. He is actually envious of people who have found their direction in life.

How’s that possible for a senior manager with an admirable career track?

Just before that confession, we discussed his Q7 questionnaire results, and his feedback was somewhat disturbing. Among other things, he mentioned that although he has “more respect for Option B,” he wants his “dream teammate” select Option A – as it is “better for the business.” And that, according to my friend, makes it difficult to answer the Q7 questions.

Now I see the problem.

My friend may have a severe misalignment of values with his team. This incongruence leads to personal life-work imbalance, and that my friend can see for himself, the can’t-get-myself-to-office feeling. If not taken care of, this problem most likely affects the entire business, leads to disengagement and poor efficiency within the business, and a poor brand image projected to your customers and the entire outside world.

We will be working on it together. It is a challenging task that will take but as the desire to improve team culture is coming from the top, we will be able to achieve the necessary change, make a good company better.

Check your team with Q7 here.

Always Stand Up for Your Real Team

As a leader, you have to always stand for your team, right?
Wrong.

Rather, first, you need to make sure you realize which team is “your team.”

That may sound counterintuitive but that’s life. Being a manager (team lead, manager, director, etc.), you are in charge of a unit consisting of several individuals. If you are part of an effective organization, your team consists of a few immediate reports, ideally 5 to 10, that you call “your team.” But whatever your role is, you are part of yet another team – your own boss’ team. Thus, you are a member of two teams at least, usually on two different levels, and your real team is the “upper” team. Your position within the “upper” team is the main driver of everyday actions, and your performance there will determine your career progression and professional success.

As I realized working with senior managers in various environments, the “real team” is not immediately clear to many. But it is very important to understand, visualize and accept. If you disagree with this dual team approach, then maybe you are one of the reasons why your organization is less efficient than it would like to be. This is not politics; this is how truly effective businesses work. Continue reading “Always Stand Up for Your Real Team”

Canada Cost Post-Saving Math

Freising, Munich area, Germany

(On the photo, a post(wo)man delivering mail to the residents of Freising, Munich area)

Door-to-door mail delivery to urban customers has been phased out in Canada in the last five years.

This was a major cost-saving initiative of Canada Post. As a performance improvement specialist, I doubt its value for Canadians.  Without a doubt, there is a better way to improve efficiency, instead of going into this cost cutting death spiral, as Tom Peters put it in his book “The Excellence Dividend.”

Since 2013, the only rationale offered by the Crown Corporation was that two-thirds of Canadians don’t have mail delivered right to their doors already, so the other five million should not complain. And a local public servant obligingly added at the time that this is even better for the elderly citizens – to have a daily walk to the communal “super-mailbox”…

But I digress. Let’s just do the math. Continue reading “Canada Cost Post-Saving Math”

What Would You Do With ONE EXTRA HOUR, Daily?

New Eisenhower Matrix

If you promise to spend this extra hour with your family (or at least out of the office), I will tell you what needs to be done. And it is free, no purchase necessary. Your only investment is a pen and paper.

I have done this exercise several times with various clients, and the results were always positive. On average, you become 10% more time-efficient after the first attempt, and that is about one hour per day for a real-life professional.

The exercise will take you 7 minutes and 7 days: 7 minutes to finish reading this post and then 7 days to implement what you have read. Continue reading “What Would You Do With ONE EXTRA HOUR, Daily?”

If Zuck Were Project Manager, He’d Learn More ‘Tricks’

Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) once praised her boss for “trying to make meetings as productive as possible.” According to her, Mark Zuckerberg “asks people to send materials in advance so we can use the time for discussion” and “we try to be clear about our goal when we sit down for a meeting–are we in the room to make a decision or to have a discussion?”

At first, I thought Ms. Sandberg was being sarcastic: Can you really call those “efficiency tricks”? But then I had to admit that outside a limited ‘club’ of a few strong managers I have worked with, almost none of the business meetings that I have audited could be considered efficient.

Now the good news. The ‘tricks’ that make your meetings productive are not new or hard to learn, you can easily get ahead of Zuck (although he may be getting some extensive coaching right now); it is just a matter of self-discipline. Well, almost.

Just think about your next meeting as if it’s a project.  

Continue reading “If Zuck Were Project Manager, He’d Learn More ‘Tricks’”

What did I do to James?

What did I do to James?

I have not yet met a single manager who would not complain about ‘boring’, ‘endless’ and ‘useless’ meetings they have to host or attend on a daily basis. And yet most of them are literally just a few words away from making their meeting a really effective communication and teambuilding tool.

I once worked with a senior leader, let’s call him James, who had daily ‘planning’ meetings with his extended team, first thing in the morning. Continue reading “What did I do to James?”

PLACE YOUR STAR ON HUMAN VALUES MAP

CLCTVR 2.0

 

CLCTVR 2.0 tool will show your “true North” and get you aligned with teammates, colleagues and friends.

In other words, the tool will help you see what drives you and your team and if those drivers are aligned. Continue reading “PLACE YOUR STAR ON HUMAN VALUES MAP”

The Recipe for Project Success: 3 Requirements + 10 Values

success values

The three key reasons why some projects fail are:

  1. Requirements
  2. Requirements
  3. Requirements

There is but a grain of joke in this PM joke: requirements are key. In real life, three different sets of requirements could and should be identified during the project initiation.

Requirements-1: The Spec.

First requirements that come to mind are the “standard” ones: what exactly we have to deliver. If the “what” is not defined properly, different interpretations of the requirements will lead to reworks, conflicts, delays etc.

Although requirements definition and requirements management is an important part of the PM’s job, it is important to go one level higher and make sure that we understand the business context.

Requirements-2: The Constraints Triangle.

If you’ve read this far, you are probably not new to the project management. Hence you know that the triple constraints – Scope, Time, Cost – are part of PM life, and that another PM not-exactly-a-joke insists that you can pick only two. Continue reading “The Recipe for Project Success: 3 Requirements + 10 Values”

Shared Values of Self-Made Millionaires

Human Values

There’s an interesting article posted recently on LinkedIn Pulse. Jeff Haden put this in his post headline, making it almost instantly viral:

“8 of 10 Self-Made Millionaires Were Not ‘A’ Students. Instead, They Share 1 Trait.”

The trait, of course, is their willingness to learn.

While I agree with Jeff Hadden, that is not news. Similar observations were made before.

According to Tom Corley’s study of “Rich Habits”:

“85% of millionaires read two or more books a month that help them grow.”

Indeed, Elon Musk, one of today’s most admirable business leaders is known for having taught himself – literally! – rocket science by reading books. Moreover, according to his brother, Elon used to read two books per day when he was a kid. Continue reading “Shared Values of Self-Made Millionaires”

Canoeing with Mintzberg

Canoeing with Mintzberg

The CoachingOurselves Reflections 2017 – Rebalancing Society conference was an outstanding 3-day event filled with ideas, presentations and passion shared with us by the brightest minds: Henry MintzbergPhilip KotlerDan PonterfractEd ScheinJonathan GoslingMitch Joel and many other prominent thinkers, businesspeople and coaches.

This true feast of sustainable leadership was concluded with a savory dessert – The Great Canadian Canoe Trip, five hours in double canoes going down the Devil’s River in Mont-Tremblant National Park.

Now, mentally going through the experience again, I think that this trip in the end of the conference was more than just for pleasure and relaxation. The unbridled nature, the canoes, and the river flow – all have their profound role in the understanding and “internalization” of the worldview experienced during the main event.

Here are my key takeaways from the Canoe Trip.

1.      Key safety rules in the canoe are familiar to every manager:

  • Avoid sudden movements.
  • Go with the flow.

Nothing new, but that does not mean “don’t rock the boat”; it’s just that any disruption creates unnecessary risks and may lead to an accident, and is not necessary when you are on the right course.

2.      The real leader in the canoe, the helmsman, is the paddler in the stern. He is the more experienced one, doing the steering. Leading from behind, he will be looking over the front paddler’s shoulder all the time, and if the latter does not have a small frame and wears a hat, the helmsman will not see much. Continue reading “Canoeing with Mintzberg”